Recently Inhabit Agency was privileged to be invited to a presentation delivered by Lee Hewitt, Head of Capital Procurement at Gatwick Airport. Gifted with the largest route network in the UK, the most efficient national single runway and the most diverse airlines mix, Gatwick Airport is still competing with Heathrow for an additional runway. While the final decision continues to be delayed Gatwick Airport’s board are pushing on with the assumption the outcome will be in their favour. They are so confident they have started to organise their supply chain to be ready when the “green light” is given.
With the political pressure on, Gatwick Airport’s procurement have put a lot of thinking into reshaping their supply chain in order to guarantee the success of this £2.5 billion project. More than just new airfields, the additional runway will require the construction of new terminals, new landside and retails facilities but also top-notch security so that the now 41 million passengers (expected to reach 55 million by the next 10 years) can enjoy a memorable experience in all safety. This Herculean task will see big players in the supply chain competing for the airport’s business, however Gatwick Airport want to move away from slow moving and expensive tiered supply management models in favour of a smart strategy that sources and works directly with smaller more local suppliers.
Beyond the attractiveness of being known as the provider of jobs for local businesses which will undoubtedly play in their favour, Gatwick Airport have identified local sourcing as a key element to achieve efficiency, quality and agile operations, cornerstones of their innovative supply chain framework. With the old tiered model removed they want to embrace one-on-one relationships with each individual business as they believe the closer they get to their suppliers, the better in quality the delivery will be. At the event, and to an audience of excited SMEs, Lee Hewitt invited all attendees to continue watching the Official Journal over the coming weeks where opportunities to tender will be published.
What about the big players in the industry? Will they have to play harder to be considered? To this question, the Head of Capital Procurement replied that the choice of inviting local SMEs to be part of the project was based on the assumption of their greater flexibility over bigger companies and better efficiency in terms of communications. Bigger players will of course not be forgotten provided they can demonstrate their efficiency. Will there be exceptions to the local sourcing? Probably… In terms of security, Lee Hewitt was proud to mention that manufacturers of luggage screening devices with “state of the art” solutions had already been invited to tender.
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